“Light of The World,” the iconic picture of Christ at the garden door, was first painted in the mid-1800s by William Holman Hunt. The poignant imagery helps us ask ourselves the vital question: Is my heart open to Christ? Based on the words of Christ to the Laodicean Church, the message resonates through the centuries:
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20
Although often presented as a salvation call, the words of Revelation spoke to a lukewarm church. It addressed believers who claimed the name of Christ but lived from (and for) themselves. It is a heart-rending passage with timeless resonance. Christ, never concerned with political correctness, chastised such half-hearted believing—going so far as to say it nauseated Him.
Perhaps the Church of today has even greater need for Hunt’s allegorical picture. Nearly 300 years have passed since Hunt felt the depth of those words and painted the invitation. He depicted the risen Christ—with nail-scarred hands and the Crown of Thorns—standing near a garden doorway that symbolizes the hearts of Christians. Dressed in the robe of a High Priest, the perfect sacrifice for sin, calls out for entrance. His patience radiates as He stands with decaying gifts outside a handle-less, weed-covered door. The verse tells us He calls as well as knocks; though His sheep know His voice, the weeds growing across the doorway tell us the door has been shut for some time. It is a door that must be opened from the inside, for Christ never forces Himself on anyone.
So, what keeps the hearts of Christians closed? It is a question each of us must ask. Perhaps first, we must ask, “Does Christ have access to all the doors of my life?”
You see the ones Christ spoke to in Revelation seemed not to have noticed His absence. He said to them: “You think you are rich and fine, but you are wretched, poor, blind and naked.” Our hearts are easily deceived. Time with the Lord requires quiet focus and deliberate intention.
Busy-ness and self-absorption keep the door tightly shut for many. “Check back later; I’m busy doing things for the church,” is a common response. Pride, judgments and self-satisfaction are heavy weights on the heart doors of others. A heart that does not weep for the brokenness of the world has not dined with Jesus.
Wounded hearts build deceitful walls intended to keep the pain at bay—and actually keep the Healer out. Fear and shame often bar heart doors. Many act as if grace and mercy end after salvation. Nothing could be farther from the truth; but those who do not fully understand the love of God fear His rebuke and shy from His presence.
As Hunt beautifully portrayed, Jesus waits and calls. He longs to sweep out the sin and the pain, to heal the brokenness and give light for life. In the painting, Christ holds a lantern that sets the picture aglow. Our lives are dark and weed-covered when we fail to open our hearts to time with Him. He is calling; heed His voice.
What keeps you from opening the door?
*For more information and pictures of this exquisite painting see the following links: